Written by Howie Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL

I wrote a blog recently entitled, “A New Philosophy of Blogging” which started some interesting conversations.  Those conversations prompted the following thoughts about how to use blogs as an effective marketing tool.

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1.  Think about your target market or markets. What is it that’s important to them? What are the words or expressions they use to talk about those concerns?  Identify the specific words or expressions that best describes their pain points, business objectives, bottlenecks, or opportunities for improvement. Write them down and add to them as you learn more.

2.  Make a list of these words and expressions and allow them to define the title and content of your blogs. Often, your customer base will not be limited to a specific market niche or demographic. But that doesn’t mean that those companies don’t have similar needs and reasons for doing work with you. When possible, try to identify clusters of expressions that cross different market niches and demographics and use those most often.

3.  Over time, you will saturate the search engines with those keywords and should consider those other words that fall outside of the larger clusters into smaller clusters or individual expressions. These are just as valuable and should be grouped together in your titles and content in specific related expressions (i.e. return on marketing investment). These are called long-tail keywords. Keywords are broken into head keywords—the most popular and competitive—and long tail keywords, less common and less competitive.

4.  Resist the temptation to promote. This flies directly in the face of most marketing and sales efforts that focus on, “always be closing.” Different people have different viewpoints, but I believe that your content marketing strategy should focus on beginning conversations and encouraging customer engagement.  Ask questions at the end of your blogs and encourage people to interact. These interactions will create opportunities to close deals.

5.  Last, but not least, schedule your blogs and create mechanisms for inspiration. Scheduling is fairly obvious. Perhaps you post your blog every Tuesday. Identifying inspiration is a little bit tougher. If you know your customers and other thought leaders, you should be monitoring their postings on Twitter and LinkedIn. Just looking at a few days of postings can serve as inspiration. Another tool I use is to customize my Google News homepage with subjects of interest such as “inkjet presses” or “printing workflow”. The stories can provide blog ideas.

Do you have a strategy that increases the effectiveness of your blog?  I shared mine and I would love to hear about yours!

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Howard Fenton is a Consultant and Business Advisor at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity through workflow management, adding and integrating new digital services, and adding value through customer research.